If we think of our situation, namely our conditions and circumstances, as a call for authenticity in the form of our principled behavior, we may be able to see where we are settling for too many failures or missed opportunities.
Yes, we can certainly point to people less principled than we are. Less rational and responsible, less open-minded and inquisitive, less able to manage their psychology, less committed to freedom, justice and equality. But a complacent acceptance of our own level of achievement with respect to climbing the ladder of performance seriously undermines the authority on which the enterprise of autonomy and life depends.
What happens when we misunderstand or are ambivalent toward the principled requirements put to us and respond to them inappropriately? You know the answer as well as I do. Stress and more stress. Serious stress that threatens to break down the state of our well-being, the clarity of our minds and the executive grip we have on our conditions and circumstances.
When we fail to overcome the frictions of reality, failure and opposition, to push through resistance and to fight inertia—in other words, when we try to do less than what it takes to meet the challenge—we arrest the momentum of our principled enterprise and quite possibly begin our decline.